New Horizons: Leuven celebrates a Flemish Primitive

During this end-of-year season, Leuven will be celebrating. The New Horizons city festival leads you into the universe of Dieric Bouts. This Flemish Primitive was already at home there five centuries ago, and he still is. 

Soon, the most wonderful time of the year starts. That means winter coziness, peace, and a time for reflection. 2024 is almost upon us, time to make your best New Year’s resolutions. Top of the list: more culture! Flanders has a wealth of heritage and artistic treasures, and they are all worthy of attention. Anyone wanting to put their good resolutions into practice even before the New Year has a golden opportunity. After all, a good start is half the job. 

The New Horizons city festival in Leuven is taking place until mid-January. The festival puts Dieric Bouts in the spotlight. He is one of the greatest Flemish Primitives and a pioneer of the Northern Renaissance. The artist settled in Leuven in the middle of the 15th century and built up an impressive body of work until his death. New Horizons celebrates his life’s work with dozens of activities such as groundbreaking performances, exhibitions, club nights and much more. The international top exhibition Dieric Bouts. Creator of images in the city museum M Leuven is the focal point of the event. 

The exhibition gets off to a stunning start with The Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus. Bouts painted this triptych between 1460 and 1464. It was then given a place in Saint Peter’s Church in Leuven. For New Horizons, the piece will temporarily move to M Leuven. The detailed landscapes and the masterful use of perspective will take your breath away. In addition, you can also see Bouts’ magnum opus, The Last Supper as well as his Triptych of the Descent from the Cross, which has called Granada, Spain, its home for 500 years. It has been brought to Leuven especially for this exhibition. 

There is no shortage of masterpieces, although the exhibition also explores entirely different perspectives, just as Bouts himself did. For example, it examines similarities with our contemporary visual culture. The devotion so present in Bouts’ work is juxtaposed with the social idolatry of modern heroes. As a result, Eddy Merckx, the best cyclist of all time, also appears here. Another supporting part is for phenomena such as Kim Kardashian, in dialogue with Bouts’ paintings of Madonna with Child. We also see the parallels between the fantastical decors of the Flemish Primitive and the Star Wars universe. 

You can feel it right away: this is more than just an exhibition. New Horizons is on until January 14, 2024, in Leuven.  It’s a great start to a New Year packed with culture. What’s more, the Ensor Year in 2024 is sure to satisfy your hunger for all things cultural. 

Discover the genius of Dieric Bouts, an excellent end-of-year activity
Discover the genius of Dieric Bouts, an excellent end-of-year activity © M Leuven – Dries Lievens

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